Dan Huang with Urban Systems briefed Parksville council on the results of a telephone survey done as part of the ongoing official community plan (OCP) update process at their Monday night meeting.
The survey contacted 300 city residents giving it a statistical accuracy of plus or minus 5.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Among the results, 28 per cent of respondents named the city’s best feature as access to the beach/waterfront, followed closely by the city’s size (24 per cent) and weather (21 per cent).
From five options, resident’s top land use priority is economic and business development (29 per cent), followed by the environment at 23 per cent.
The majority of people (72 per cent) think the city’s recent population growth (nine per cent since 2006) is about right, while 20 per cent think it grew too much.
That differs substantially by neighbourhood, with 86 per cent supporting growth and development in the Wembley Mall area (62 per cent strong support) and 84 per cent in the industrial park, but only 40 support it in the downtown waterfront area. Only 19 per cent strongly support it.
The results are very similar for maximum building height, with most people supporting taller buildings in the industrial park (5.7 stories) and Wembley area (5.3 stories), while people want lower buildings in the downtown core (4.3) and waterfront (3.6).
The survey asked specifically about waterfront development, finding that there is little support for it, even when offered additional “perks” or trade offs.
Asked if people would support development of higher than the current three story limit if view corridors were protected, only 34 per cent supported, while 65 per cent opposed, including 57 per cent strongly opposing.
That opposition softened slightly if parkland was dedicated in exchange, but only to 47 per cent compared to 23 per cent strongly supporting.
Respondents were split on how much the city should do for economic development with equal amounts (44 per cent) feeling the city currently does the right amount versus those who think it does too little.
Mayor Chris Burger pointed out that means 88 per cent think the city should continue it’s economic development or increase it, only four per cent said they are doing too much.
The vast majority would support the city doing more to encourage economic development, with areas like educational programs, activities for seniors, arts and culture and sporting events all getting more than 90 per cent support.
Of respondents 88 per cent think it is important for Parksville to be an environmental leader, with protection of watersheds the highest priority of 49 per cent, followed by protection of sensitive areas (18 per cent).
The complete results of the survey are online at the city’s website: www.parksville.ca/ocp.